Russia’s missiles pummel more Donetsk cities as leaders implore people to leave

Kramatosk, Ukraine

Russia is bringing its war against Ukraine closer to the industrial cities of Donetsk, with a series of missile attacks on densely populated areas.

On Thursday, two S-300 missiles were fired into downtown Kramatorsk, landing less than a hundred meters away from a team a minute apart.

An earlier missile strike by Iskandar killed four people and hospitalized several in the same area – a fully residential area with shops, a hospital and a clinic. Among those killed was the venerable school principal, Hana Valeriona, weeks shy of her 48th birthday.

Rescue crews were still at the scene with no warning of Thursday’s attack. Witnessed the last moments of the second missile before a large fire erupted and smoke billowed into the air.

There were no further casualties, but at least five civilians were injured. Some people panicked and ran away from the scene. Others looked deadly. “Of course, we are scared,” said Natalia, a middle-aged woman. “But what option do we have?”

Pavlo Kirilenko, the military governor in Donetsk, says there is one option: Leave. “The occupiers will not leave the Donetsk region alone until we drive them out of our territory. Until then, all citizens must vacate the region – it is a matter of life and death.”

But its appeal sounds like a broken record to some. Many Ukrainians in the Donetsk region cannot afford to leave their homes, or for fear of being abandoned in a distant place away from their familiar community. Ukrainian officials estimate that half of Kramatorsk’s pre-war population of about 150,000 has left. Thousands of people live in this industrial city, which is a center for mechanical engineering and steelmaking.

The Kramatorsk attacks followed another weekend attack against the nearby town of Konstantinyvka, in which three people were killed. Russian forces trying to encircle the city of Bakhmut, a few miles to the east, are now trying to “soften up” the surrounding major cities.

Throughout the campaign, Russian forces have combined attacks against Ukrainian forces and infrastructure with seemingly random attacks on civilian areas.

This may be partly because many of their missiles are not accurate. The Kh-22 – designed to sink aircraft carriers – killed dozens in attacks on the Dnipro last month and in the city of Kremenchak last August. The S-300, designed to shoot down fighter jets, has been re-engineered to engage ground targets.

But it could also be because the attack was part of a Russian strategy to demoralize ordinary Ukrainians. The mayor of Kramatosk pointed out this Thursday: “You lose heart when you see the ruins of the main building in the center of your city. But there is no time for that now – they are trying to destroy us.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the strikes against Kramatorsk destroyed the long-range HIMARS artillery system. But it is inconceivable that Ukrainians would keep such an expensive weapon in a public place given its size. They have gone to great lengths to hide their locations, even creating replicas.

The attacks this week come as a fierce battle rages a few miles further east, with Ukrainian artillery and infantry trying to prevent the Russians from encircling Bakhmut and taking the high ground leading to Kramatorsk. Such places will become much more dangerous.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi said on Friday: “Russia is now concentrating its forces and preparing to retaliate not only against Ukraine, but also against free Europe and the free world.”

He has said he believes a new Russian offensive – predicted by his commanders in interviews in December – has already begun.

In addition, the General Staff of the Ukrainian military said Thursday that Russian forces “continue active reconnaissance and preparation for aggression in several directions.”

This message is echoed across the battlefield in Ukraine’s bunkers.

In a 10-day tour of front-line positions, several Ukrainian commanders were heard saying they saw the Russians bringing forward heavy weapons: long-range artillery and multiple rocket launchers (MLRS). On Wednesday, in the trenches near the town of Krasnohorivka, the sound of Russian GRAD launchers pierced the air every few minutes.

Ukrainian units are seeing an influx of more Russian units, which mobilized last fall, fighters from the private military company Wagner, Chechen groups and more professional regular units.

Ukrainian intelligence believes that the poor state of Russian military equipment will force the Russian high command to mass forces to increase the number of Ukrainian guards. But Ukrainian military officials have also said they have their own countermeasures.

So far, the Ukrainians have held the line along the entire suppressed front that runs from the Russian border down to the Luhansk region and Donetsk, and say they are confident of stopping the Russian advance.

Officials and officers alike say their biggest need is long-range missile and artillery systems that can take out Russian targets that are now far behind the front lines — some even beyond the range of HIMARS. are

And they need an extensive and consistent pipeline of munitions given the staggering rate at which they are being used.

People receive plywood to cover broken windows in Kramatosk on February 2.

Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Ryzenkov sought to reassure allies that Ukraine would not use long-range missiles to attack Russian territory, saying on Thursday that Kyiv was “coordinating targets with partners.” ready for.”

“If we get a chance to attack at a distance of 300 km, the Russian army will not be able to maintain the defense and will be forced to lose. Ukraine is ready to provide any kind of guarantee that your weapons are on Russian soil. will not engage in attacks,” Reznikov said.

Among the air defense weapons most needed, Reznikov said, are the Patriot air defense system (two are pledged), the French-made SAMP/T, which has a range of about 120 km, and the German IRIS-T, which is longer. , which has been very effective in eliminating the Russian missile threat. The Patriot is capable of intercepting ballistic missiles, of which the Russians have a substantial stockpile.

And until Ukraine acquires long-range missiles and artillery systems, the Russians may be able to tilt the battlefield in their favor, with probing strikes designed to identify weak points in Ukraine’s defenses. With, aided by the massive use of artillery.

An aerial view of an apartment building hit by a Russian rocket in the Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk on Thursday.

“Russian forces are trying to build their decisive offensive operation around western Luhansk, possibly in the direction of northern Donetsk,” said Kateryna Stepanenko at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War.

“Russian forces will likely try to establish a bridge across the Siverskyi Donets River in northern Donetsk, which proved to be a very difficult task for Russian forces in the spring and summer of 2022,” Stepanenko said. said

But she doesn’t envision a multi-pronged Russian offensive because they “have not demonstrated the ability to sustain several large offensives at once,” so they would “grind to the borders of the Donetsk region before the rains in the spring.” I hope,” she said.

The next few months will be a deadly chess game along the 1,500 km long front line.

Read full article here

Related Articles

Latest Posts